'Then Him' by Emily Critchley

After ‘The Marriage of Faustus and Helen’


Suppose suppose you forgot
just for a second all those smutty
wings – ambivalence of old
& dove right there where it’s at.
Blessed foretaste! The cage
is not a pulley system –
or trap, but has a lake
inside, mirrored, a valley too

that glitter-balls its way through
to a new sort of freedom: spherical.
Know that, whatever happens, I will
meet you in this place afterwards.
It could’ve been nothing
but we called it – now it belongs to us permanently.

& city sirens cry out celebratorily
& thousands of skin molecules moisten
under ground, happy we’re almost
in each other’s way again; almost
fall down the escalator for joy!
What surprise – all that tumbleweed
& other dust collected in a coronet
to be offered half perfectly again;
with the graceful thud of a passing train.

O, I’ve known swallows touch the ground
too soon, only to be trounced;
epillions neglected, rubbished for not meeting
the house martin in his nest. I’ve taken
to the edge of cliffs, jumped part way
only to stub my toe on the small distance
(because my eyes were closed!)

You wouldn’t lead me to that kind of death –
but the littler, more perfect one, stringing me out
with songs of such fitting striation
that you cannot leave: they are smiling in wax,
dipping a toe into the whole part,
where you, at once impressed & beautifully propelled,
resist frowning, but know you belong…


A different paradox / doxography. That he is
not quite there must be an understanding
to cope. Then, unbind the little bine
around your throat, on your way over
just one of this city’s many superb bridges.
Here. Glancing over the side

fear, not in an eagle, but a duck, this time
not driving – speed was its destruction
& spouted malice, a rich Hellespont,
where formal information gathered
that we did not ask for, but survived.
Erasmus would have had a field day,
or Helen, at our new found humanism.

So spins the little world for those who think
it through: to mend unthreadable their
troubled love of twisting. & life is long –
& worries less the need for song.

This poem was published in IMAGINARYLOVEPOEMS (Paris: Corrupt Press, 2011)

Emily Critchley holds a PhD in contemporary, American, women’s poetry and philosophy from the University of Cambridge. She is the author of several critical articles - on poetry, philosophy and feminism - and several poetry publications. Her Selected Writing, 'Love / All That / & OK', was published by Penned in the Margins in 2011. In 2004 she won the John Kinsella - Tracy Ryan prize for poetry, at the University of Cambridge, and in 2011 was joint winner of the Jane Martin Prize for Poetry. Critchley teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of Greenwich, London.

List of Publications:

The Dirt Glitch Land Alter Affair (Cambridge: Arehouse, 2003)
How to make Millions (Cambridge: Arehouse, 2004)
I just want you to know that we can still be friends (Intercapillary Space, 2005)
When I say I Believe Women… (London: bad press, 2006)
Of All the Surprises (Switzerland: Dusie, 2007)
Who handles one over the Backlash (Norfolk: Oystercatcher press, 2008)
Hopeful For Love Are Th’ Impoverish’d Of Faith (Southampton: Torque press, 2010)
Love / All That / & OK: Selected Writing (London: Penned in the Margins, 2011)
Sonnets for Luke (Liverpool: Holdfire press, 2011)
IMAGINARYLOVEPOEMS (Paris: Corrupt Press, 2011)
This is not a True Thing (London: Intercapillary Editions, forthcoming)

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